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Alliance Flooring: Introductions enhance Destination location

March 14/21, 2016; Volume 30, Number 19

By Nadia Ramlakhan

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 9.56.16 AMTucson, Ariz.—On the heels of its recent success with the 2015 launch of the Destination program, Alliance Flooring revealed the next stage of this initiative at the group’s annual convention held here March 4-7. With 385 members in attendance—the most since 2009—the focal point of this year’s introductions revolved around a “natural extension” of the group’s flagship program, according to Kevin Logue, vice president of marketing and co-COO.

What started as a carpet boutique within the showroom has expanded into hard surface and will eventually include new POP materials and advertising efforts. “Everyone was in agreement at stores across the U.S.,” explained Ryan Dunn, vice president of sales and co-COO. “They loved the new displays and said they were really grabbing the consumer’s attention. So we thought, ‘Where do we go from here? How do we continue to grow?’”

While the initial launch of the Destination program drew upon color, pattern and performance, phase two includes the Fashion Destination, which serves as a design center for retailers; the Hardwood Destination, which puts dealers at the forefront of the hard surface category’s gain in market share, and Destination Cut Sets, a pair of displays to complement the package.

The Fashion Destination offers a wide selection of products for dealers to work with in a two-tiered display that features 56 cards. “At the end of the day, we’re in the business of creating beautiful spaces, beautiful rooms and beautiful homes,” Logue said. “We’re in the fashion business and that’s the way we need to look at ourselves. [The Fashion Destination] is a one-stop destination in a CarpetsPlus retail showroom for style, design, pattern, color—it has it all right there. It’s a beacon intended to draw consumers in and give them opportunities to get aw
ay from beige or taupe. It’s designed to suggest and offer a designer approach to doing something different or making a statement.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 9.56.59 AMRetailers are also looking forward to continuing their success with the Destination program in light of the new displays. “It’s changing the way we [will] market in the future,” said Stacey Pape, president of SP Floors and Design Center in McMurray, Pa. “It makes us more professional and pulls us together as a group. It gives us the vehicles that can help us sell and better promote our stores and image. It’s really taking us to the next level.”

Todd Ramsey, co-owner of 3 Kings CarpetsPlus ColorTile in Fort Wayne, Ind., noted the new additions to the program will help differentiate the CarpetsPlus brand from other groups in
the industry. “We all know we are in the fashion business but if you don’t show that to the consumer as soon as she walks through the door, you are not allowing yourself to make higher margins on your products. The displays, the wood, colorations, etc., allow us to sell a product at a higher margin because it looks nicer. [This program] will put us ahead of the curve and on the cutting edge of development, technology and fashion.”

Rustic, timeworn hickories, wide planks, mixed widths and wire-brushed oaks—among other on-trend visuals—can be found across 48 SKUs in the Hardwood Destination. “Hard surface is becoming half the industry or more, depending on what part of the country you are in,” said Ron Dunn, co-CEO. “It’s not only functional but it’s a design product as well. So now the whole showroom flows together and lets you design all aspects of [the home].”

Hand-in-hand with the Hardwood Destination is the group’s new Cut-A-Rug program as every product in the Fashion Destination is available in wall-to-wall or custom area rugs. Because consumers who buy hard surface flooring typically purchase a
n area rug two to three weeks later, the Cut-A-Rug program aims to eliminate big box stores from the equation and allow retailers to offer custom area rug options without having to manage inventory.

“It’s extra-high-margin business right there for the taking,” Logue said. “We definitely see opportunities with cross merchandising hard surface and area rugs. It’s a challenge for specialty retailers to be in the area rug business; devoting the floor space and cash is not something everyone is willing to do. So the beauty of Cut-A-Rug is it puts someone in the rug business and gives them options, styles and designs they can sell the consumer. We want them to get [these choices] from us.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 9.57.05 AMJon Logue, co-CEO, said the Destination displays allow for a more cohesive showroom set up. “When a consumer walks in a typical store, she will find soft surface flooring [in one area] and she will run to the other side to look at the hard surfaces and then she will run back to look at rugs. So what we are trying to do is focus on creating a complete destination.”

Josh Elder, co-owner of Gainesville CarpetsPlus in Gainesville, Fla., is one dealer who exited the area rug business and can appreciate the efficiency of the complementary Destination displays. “I got tired of having tens of thousands of dollars in inventory,” he said. “And now with the Cut-A-Rug program, we can sit down with the homeowner and design [a rug] quickly and it ships right to her. We can modify and tweak them as much as we’d like. It makes it a lot easier not only for the consumer but for my staff and me as well. Instead of having 100 rugs in stock we have 10,000 in a smaller space.”

With the introduction of Destination phase two, Ryan Dunn and Kevin Logue hope to refresh the group’s identity as a whole and eventually turn the entire retail showroom into a Destination location rather than featuring Destination displays within the store. The 2016 member summit, scheduled to take place later this year at SP Floors and Design Center, will be one of the first looks into a fully transformed retail showroom.

“We had a great turnout with the Destination program and I think this year will equally piggyback that,” Ryan Dunn said. “This year is really the launch of the Destination location—it’s going to be a whole new look and revival to our entire program and who we are. Ron [Dunn] and Jon [Logue] started this in 1997 and we’ve always been a group of options—a hodgepodge of product. This is going to give a jolt to not only our membership but the industry as well.”